RARA-AVIS: Re: Charles McCarry (was: A couple New Reads)

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 21 Jul 2007

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Duane Spurlock <duane1spur@...> wrote:
> "cptpipes2000" cptpipes@... cptpipes2000 wrote:
> <<
> I've also started reading Charles McCarry. I haven't read much in
> spy genre beyond
> Robert Littell and Kent Harrington's American Boys, but the two books
> I've read so far in
> McCarry's series are highly recommended.
> >>

I rate McCarry very highly. Among American espionage writers, I can't think of anyone other than Ross Thomas who I would rank above him.

McCarry has an interesting background, which I heard him relate at a function at the Smithsonian. He was a speechwriter for a Secretary of Labor in the Eisenhower administration and after selling a couple of short stories for good money to (IIRC) the Saturday Evening Post, he tendered his resignation. The Secretary invited him to a private farewell lunch in his office and when he arrived there was one other attendee--the legendary head of the CIA Allen Dulles.

Dulles asked him to join the agency. When McCarry said he wanted to be a writer, Dulles replied by all means be a writer. McCarry thought about it a moment and asked but what will I do for the agency? Dulles said pleasantly McCarry shouldn't worry about it. "That's our job. When we come up with something, we'll let you know."

McCarry did continue as a writer, and as E. Howard Hunt proved before him, a writer's career is a good cover for an undercover CIA agent. After years as a magazine writer, his first book was a biography of Ralph Nader called CITIZEN NADER. I took that book to the Smithsonian event to be autographed. Nader has always been a bit paranoid, perhaps dating from the days General Motors had him followed. Word of McCarry's CIA career came out some years after the biography. Presenting the book to be signed, I mentioned that the news must have awakened all of Nader's worse suspicions. McCarry smiled at my speculation. He said whatever Nader may have thought when he heard about McCarry's CIA background, the biography had been a simple, straightforward writing assignment.

Concurrent with his career as a novelist, McCarry is one of the best ghost writers of autobiographies by former public officials. Former Trasurery Secetary and Ronald Reagan Chief of Staff Don Regan insisted McCarry's name be listed on the cover of their book together.

Secondly, he was for many years the "writing doctor" at National Geographic Magazine where his influence was said to be profound. As I recall, one of the few times McCarry's byline appeared in the magazine was in the lead article for the 100th anniversary issue. Quite a mark of respect. He later quietly resigned from the magazine after an editor he admired was fired.

One favorite novel by McCarry is his THE TEARS OF AUTUMN.

Richard Moore

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